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Archive for January, 2012

I considered waiting a day or two, but I think this next post buddies right up with the last one featuring Jaiden & the Snow Birds, so I decided I’ll go ahead.

First, some background. A few weeks ago Eric and I sort of had a revelation: You don’t need to be a big popular band like U2 in order to raise money for charity. Our raising of funds may be on a much smaller scale (…well, in all honesty… that really depends on you, dear reader), but “no amount is too small” and “every little bit helps” and how about that story of the widow giving away her few pennies compared to the rich dude giving away millions? You know what I’m talking about. Anyways, with that in mind, combined with the fact that in the past year+ we have played shows with some blow-your-mind bands, we decided to put together a compilation charity album. Boom.

First off, the charity is War Child, and just fyi, 100% of everything donated for this project goes directly to War Child. Eric and I (and any of the other bands) don’t get a single cent. So please, give generously. If you haven’t heard of War Child, it’s an organization that deals with helping those who really can not help themselves: children affected by war (abused as victims, abused as child soldiers). It’s a sweet organization, and it does real good; who can honestly argue about giving help to kids, in war. Plus, helping out children is something Eric and I feel very passionate about.

Now, the actual product you will receive:

We have put together a 13-track digital album of some of the most outstanding DIY/indie music we have heard and played alongside of while on the road. No joke, these band/singer-songwriters are phenomenal. And putting this charity album together is our enthusiastic way of getting to share their incredible talents with you. Seriously, we (Eric especially) has very high standards when it comes to all things music, and these are some of the tops. (With that said, a few choices were left out, simply to add to album flow. But on the other hand, we plan on releasing another charity compilation in the future, with some of the songs left off plus much more I’m sure.)

The entire thing is up right now for a mere $8 donation, though, as I said, we highly encourage you to donate more. And btw, it’s all up for live stream as well, so you can take a listen before you buy. But come on, 100% to charity. Why wouldn’t you?

Here is the official link to the download and live stream: http://diymusiciansforcharity.bandcamp.com/album/diy-musicians-for-charity-vol-1

Now, I admit, Eric did pretty all the work of contacting the bands and putting the music together. However, I did the album “cover art”. And here a few few of the in-process shots…

Initial sketch:

Charcoal sketch on 2’x2′ masonite board:

Background wash:

Foreground wash:

Faces:

Hair:

Halos:

Finished halos:

Birds:

Completely finished!

The three children in this painting are 4 year old Jaiden, the foster brother I had last year and the subject from the painting in the last post, as well as his 3rd grade sister Susie on the left, and 5th grade sister Kelly on the right, both of which I had as students when I taught art on the Naskapi reservation in northern Quebec last year, and all three of whom are extremely dear to me, and kids that I find myself thinking and wondering about constantly.

To help raise extra money for the War child charity, we are auctioning off this painting as well, on ebay. Please go and place a bid, I believe it’s only at $10 as I type this, and we really want to raise as much money as we can for this charity. The bidding ends on Tuesday, February 7th, and as with the album sales, 100% of everything raised will go to War Child. (The painting is 2 foot x 2 foot, done in oil paint on masonite board.) Bidding takes place here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260945041644#ht_414wt_178

As I mentioned, the organization we have built this charity compilation around focuses on children affected by war, and although these three children do not face any war in the strictest definition of the term, they do face another kind of war. For this reason I strongly encourage anyone who is able to consider fostering children in your area. You have no idea the need that is in this world for stable love.

 

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As I mentioned in my last post, Eric and I had to duck out of the Pocket Vinyl/I Love Diane show early because of an early start Saturday morning, January 28th, because at 8:00 the doors of the Hygienic Art Galleries in New London, Conneciticut would be opening to accept submissions for their 33rd Salon des Indépendants, a local art exhibit with simple rules: one piece per artist, no judge, no jury, no fees,and no censorship. (Which, yes, as you might’ve guessed, leads to lots of images of penises. Apparently this is a running joke in the exhibit over the years.)

A good handful of local south-eastern nutmeg-staters had been recommending I submit a piece, and since I definitely want to get much more in to the local art scene here in CT, I decided I would. I wanted to create something new though. I have a weird hang-up about submitting “old” art to exhibitions… Even though it might have never been seen, I tend to consider it old news and want to create something fresh. Plus it gives me a bit of self-directed challenge.

So last week I set up my easel in the living room next to the wood stove (it was a cold week) and spent practically two days straight working on three paintings, one for the Hygienic, and two “sister” (heheh) pieces that I’ll talk about later.

Let me talk for a minute about the subject matter of this painting (since I hardly ever do): I’ve been thinking about kids a ton lately. (No, we don’t want kids and I don’t ever want to be pregnant,  and anyone who’s actually a good friend already knows that. So enough with the annoying hints; just because people are married doesn’t mean the next step will be popping out babies.) But basically kids have been showing up in Pocket Vinyl paintings a lot, and we’ve been working on our charity War Child album (more on that later), and thinking about the Chinese kids that put together our iPods and snow boots. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how vulnerable kids are and how easily they can be hurt and taken advantage of, and how actions that the rest of the world takes can affect kids in some crazy and scary ways.

It got me thinking about Jaiden, the young  foster boy we lived with last year. It got me thinking about his future, and wondering how he’ll grow up, what decisions he’ll make, what things will change his path and how he’ll react to those things. Eric and I worry and pray about him all the time, but at this point, there’s nothing we can do. We love him and care about him, but no one can live another person’s life for them. I guess we’re learning to trust that God is watching over this kid’s life, and to be ok with that. This is represented by the birds (which, fyi, are a common springtime bird up in the Schefferville area where we lived last year) These are the thoughts that went into this painting (and the other two).

I took some photos of the process, so here ya go.

Initial sketch:

Canvas sketch (I used soft charcoal on two 1’x1′ gessoed masonite boards):

Working on the face:

The two pieces, side by side:

Finished and hanging, right before we brought it over to the gallery:

I didn’t get a photo of it hanging in the gallery because I forgot my camera. We arrived in New London around 7:30 am and there was already a lineup. I was the 35th person in and although it was a little chaotic (you need to hang your own piece, which I admit, makes the curator in me cringe slightly) I was so grateful that Eric was there to give me a hand. After hanging the piece we grabbed a classic diner breakfast at Monica’s around the corner and had an awesome time walking around the New London pier and stomping on seashells and ducking pigeons. Doing fun chill things with my husband is one of the best things ever.

Before heading out of New London we stopped in at the Hygienic again to see how things were going. The walls were really packing up and I ran into my good old friend Andy and my old 8th grade art teacher Tammi Eller, who both also have stuff in the exhibit. I’m sure most people in the area have or will be seeing this exhibitions, but if you need a little prompting, I highly recommend it. It looks like a pretty sweet show.

 

P.S. Jaiden and the Snow Birds is currently for sale at the Hygienic for $230.

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The joke in this post’s title involves the posters the headlining band made for this gig, just fyi.

We had our 3rd Pocket Vinyl show at the Hessian Lion in Avon, Connecticut this past Friday, January 27, 2012! It was probably our best show there to-date, and Eric and I both had a ton of fun. Kyle is one of the sweetest and most enthusiastic sound guys we’ve ever encountered at any gig, and Lisa is a super sweet waitress who we love (and who did a couple whiskey shots with us!). Overall just amazing, welcoming, genuinely friendly people.

To make things even better, our new friends Anton & Madeleine came out to see us again! This was their third time coming to one of our shows (for their first one they bought the painting) and they are just really genuine and fun; and they brought a good handful of people to see us as well! And our friends Nicole & Castle came to see us again! (Also their 3rd time to a Pocket Vinyl show.) It’s always so amazing when people make the effort to come out to a show, especially multiple shows and show extra support in that way… Plus it is always wonderful to hang out with friends!

So, we opened the night for ourselves and another local Connecticut band, calling themselves I Love Diane. We actually met guitarist and lead vocalist Jeff Hart during our interview in New London a few weeks back for Wailing City. He’s a super cool guy, and his band is amazing. So tight; good, solid, rock-out rock. We really enjoyed them a lot. (Though we did have to leave early because of our long drive home and an early morning appointment the next day.)

As I said in my last post, we debuted not only our new suitcase merch set-up, but also our new t-shirt design, which we were already able to sell a handful of! Also, the painting sold to the same guy who won the bidding at our first Hessian Lion show! (P.S. I never say this, but you can check out all the Pocket Vinyl paintings and any other art I’ve been working on, at my Facebook art page. So check that out sometime!)

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This past Tuesday Eric played a show not as Pocket Vinyl. Since moving to this little corner of Connecticut Eric and I have started becoming familiar with the artsiness and music of New London. Everyone we’ve met there has been incredibly welcoming, having us back to play at the Bean & Leaf a small handful of times, hosting our record release of Monsters Talking at the local record store, the Telegraph, and giving us interviews and exposure on-line and on the radio. We’ve really felt like New London has become our hometown local scene, which is really wonderful.

Recently Daphne Lee Martin, co-owner of the Telegraph, asked Eric to come in and record some piano parts on tracks for her band, Raise the Rent, and if he’d be interested in playing along with them at a few shows. Tuesday night at The Outer Space in Hamden, CT (right across from the Space, which we’ve played a few times) was the first time Eric played with them. I went along for kicks. Confession: it was watching a show by myself. If anyone ever feels like joining me for another of these shows, I’d be more then happy. Though I did get a lot of sock knitting done during the set.

It was also really weird to not be painting next to Eric as he played. Besides that though, the music and show were very enjoyable.

Now I’m going to switch gears slightly and instead of breaking this up into two posts, combine Raise the Rent and the announcement about our new Pocket Vinyl t-shirts! I had the design done for quite a while:

But admittedly the new shirts sat on the back burner for a while as other things took up our attention. Recently we got back into them, and this time around Eric has been a huge help. (You can see our last design here, which we sold out of towards the end of last year.) We did the same process as last time, pinning and sewing fabric, screen printing and ironing to designs to make sure they don’t wash off. Eric did all the pinning for me, which was awesome.

I sewed about half the shirts yesterday, and since I was already at the sewing machine and had been meaning to anyways, I also DIYed a pattern and made 4 good-sized cloth bags that I’d been meaning to make for grocery shopping. (I enjoy how often being thrifty means also being creative and green.)

Today then I screen printed all the t-shirts I’d already sewn (while Eric pinned the remaining shirts and  ironed the finished, dried ones! So awesome):

And since I was already screen printing, I decided to throw a print onto one of the bags I made yesterday…

And this one, instead of using for groceries, I’ll use to make my sock knitting more portable on the road and at shows. (See how I brought things around full circle just now?)

And finally, to finish up this extra long post with so much going on in it, I would like to announce our new merch set-up: Inspired by a few other artists we’ve played with, where we’re able to contain everything (t-shirts, CDs, EPs, business cards, money jar, credit card scanner, silent auction notebook, and model release forms) in one convenient thrift store suit case! Making its debut tonight at our show at the Hessian Lion in Avon, Connecticut (our third show there, starting around 10:00):

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Back on Saturday, January 21st Pocket Vinyl had it’s 100th show! At the Tramontane Cafe in Utica, NY.

The cafe is really sweet, the kind of place I wish we lived closer to so that we could visit it more regularly. Like the Root Note, it seems to be another one of those local artsy coffee shops that just really knows what it’s doing, and does it well.

We were staying the weekend in Utica with Eric’s brother Tyler and sister-in-law Diane, and their kids Ella & Soren:

Tyler & Diane came out to see the show and won the bid on the painting for our 100th show:

And, as a special request, I did an extra small painting for one of the baristas, in exchange for a couple articles from her vintage clothing store. Not a bad trade, and not a bad 100th show. Here’s to the next 100.

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Eric and I could not be more grateful to you all. After publishing my last blog post about my broken tooth we were swarmed with dozens of messages of encouragement! People wrote with prayers, suggestions for what to do for dental work, buying Pocket Vinyl albums, and commissioning paintings. We had a lot of people suggesting that Aspen dental isn’t exactly trustworthy care, and a lot of suggestions for less expensive options. One really good friend even went through the work of finding a low-income dental clinic and calling them up for us to help figure out if we could get work done there.

Finally, when my tooth broken even more on Tuesday morning, Eric and I decided to walk in and wait at United Community & Family Services. Although we had to wait for over 2 hours, it was completely worth it. After some x-rays and a thorough check-up, the dentist informed me it’s not nearly as bad as Aspen had scared me into believing. Not only does my tooth only need to be filled (not capped, saving us almost a full thousand), but she saw no trace of the cavities Aspen claimed to have seen, and saw no reason my wisdom teeth need to be removed.  And to top it off, because of our low income, UCFS is helping us pay for the procedure. I have to go in this coming Thursday (which, sadly, means we had to cancel a show and a radio interview in Buffalo next week), and hopefully it’ll be all taken care of in one quick visit.

And the most amazing part? With all these things combined, the recent album sales and the many commissions will more then pay for all the dental work. Incredible. And so humbling. We both really feel like this is proof that God is taking care of us while we strive to live as artists.

As a thank you to everyone who helped us out on all those many ways, we’ve released a b-side from the Monsters Talking album as a free download! Check out Eric’s blog post including the free download here, and thank you thank you again!

P.S. This painting was originally created at Pianos in NYC on January 14.

P.S.S. Even though I mentioned that I have gotten a lot of commissions in the past week, don’t let that stop you if you were thinking of asking for one. Right now my rates are $100 for a 2 foot x 2 foot, $50 for a 1 foot x 1 foot, $35 for a design, plus shipping costs. Also, I’m thinking of raising my rates by the first of February… So I’d recommend asking sooner then later.

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For anyone keeping track, I do still have to post about Pocket Vinyl‘s 100th show from Saturday night… But that can wait. Remember how I said my tooth fell apart the other day? Well, this morning we headed to one of those Aspen Dental walk-in places today and got a bunch of x-rays done. Turns out that it’s cracked so badly they can’t just patch it up, but it’ll have to be capped. Some cavities were also found and I need my wisdom teeth taken out. It’s going to cost us thousands of dollars. For anyone with dental care, we’re envying you pretty bad right now. Long story short, we can’t afford it. But it’s also not something that can be ignored; if I don’t get this stuff taken care of my gums will get infected.

So, we’re faced with a crossroads now I guess. We’ll have to dip pretty deeply into the money feeding my college loans right now, which means we will run out of that pretty quickly, which means if we’re still doing as “well” financially as we’ve been doing with our music and art… then we’ll have to stop and get less artistic, higher paying jobs. No more Pocket Vinyl shows, no more live painting.

I’m more upset about this then I can really say. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. Thanks for your prayers, if you pray. And if you’ve been considering buying an album on-line or commissioning a painting, we could really use the money right now.

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